During the summer of 1989, my parents decided to make the move about 45 minutes west to quaint, little, laid back Athens, Alabama. My parents wanted a smaller and closer knit school system, slower pace of life and they had fallen in love with Athens while my mother was taking classes at Athens State.
After setting us up into our respective schools, the next task was the find a church to attend. We began visiting a church where many had invited us and there were lots of friendly and familiar faces.
This particular church had a preacher, at the time, that was passionate. He would often get into his sermon and begin to raise his voice in a powerful way. At 5 years old (and maybe a little to this day) I could be quite sensitive. His way of preaching truly scared me, even though I know that it should not have.
One particular Sunday, in the middle of the sermon, I looked up at my mother and asked,
"Mama, why is our preacher always so mad at us?"
The next Sunday we were visiting another church.
For most people, this sort of preaching would light a fire under them and encourage them to change their ways or start serving Christ in a way they hadn't before. My mother knew, though, that if I felt as though the preacher was always mad at me, I would eventually view God the same way. She knew my nature and knew that fear did not motivate me, it crippled me. We found our way to another church in town that our family could agree on and one that had a softer delivery for my mama's sensitive youngest child.
Christians often spend much of their time arguing which way of worshipping is the right way. "With so many churches, denominations and traditions, one way has to be the right way", we tell ourselves. But God made so many different personalities and character traits- don't we need an array of different churches that will speak to our hearts in the language that it can understand? I sure think so.
I believe the same is true with God.
You might be thinking, "God is God, He's no different for you than He is for me."
I don't agree.
In her book, "The God of All Comfort" Hannah Whitall Smith explains it like this...
"God tells us through all the pages of His book what He is.
'I Am,' He says, 'all that my people need'.
'I am their strength'; 'I am their peace'. 'I am their salvation'. 'I am their life'. 'I am their all in all.'"
When God calls himself "I Am", he isn't conceitedly saying that he is everything or that He needs no further explanation. He purposefully leaves it unfinished. He is allowing us to finish the statement.
"I Am ______."
It's open ended, but with no limit. He is whatever His children need him to be.
What is He for you?
I needed a caring, loving and comforting Christ. Not an intimidating and powerful presence lurking over me. Others may need a strong and stable figure in their lives and he can amazingly fill all of our different needs at the same time. Smith describes I Am as "the most comforting name the heart of man could devise", because we are able to finish the name to describe exactly what we need him to be in our lives.
This is what has inspired our new "T-shirt Testimonies". Men and women from all backgrounds and with starkly different lives will be sharing with us their testimony by finishing the name "I Am" with a shirt that reads, "He is my _____".
We hope these testimonies will be an encouragement to you in your walk and let you see that no matter where you began your journey or what obstacles stand in your way, He will be there for you and fill the need in your life.
Stay tuned to Facebook and Instagram with the hashtag #TshirtTestimonies to follow along!
Love and Blessings,